Persephone Roleplay

by Peter Ganovsky

As seen in our fifth print issue "Summer Heat", available now!

Hell is my house- 2:45 P.M. January, February, March into April, white winter air feeling around like cold fingers through my living room and my face is dry, reflective from the not-light and flaking. I’ve eaten pomegranate seeds, am sitting and shaking in wait. If hotness is a state of mind, then it is also a state of being, the defining factor being a confusion of psychic and physical boundaries, a transcendence into the metaphysical. My hotness is the only true connection I feel with the natural world. It’s a stream running through us. This is the way nature has put me together. I’m hot in the summer when I let the heat into me. Please turn off your goddamn air conditioning when I come over. I’ve got a heat kink.

I feel hot when in the mornings I wake up wet and shiny. There’s romance in the sheen and in somewhat of a fitful night of sleep, no? It’s something invisible that continuously brings me back and forth from the dream ether. A little bit of death, come back, give in, return. I wake up hot to the touch. Sleeping beneath a skylight, the coming morning is what wakes me. I am the heat in my bedroom, the right color and weight like I’ve been worked through overnight, my subconscious bodies focused on a new becoming. I come downstairs for coffee with a face full of freckles, drenched, full of proof. I feel hot in the way I move, the way I slip off a shirt, how my face drips, trailing things down other parts of my body. I feel hot where my eyes survey, where little imperfections surface.

In a tweet from 2019, artist and icon, Kelela, writes “one of the most healing things I’ve done is expose the parts of my body I’m most insecure about”. Summer is a practice in hotness, in exposure, in celebration. Heat is a practice in submission. Now, I wear little shirts that expose my shoulders, my arms, and the strange curve of my back. I wear a speedo to the beach, underwear in the house unless I’ve got somewhere to be. I take photos in full sun, acne violent. I wear ill-fitting things, or things that fit just as they should, take them off when people want, leave them forgotten on the floor. I feel hot when I’m told what to do, when I wanna give in. I suppose I’m a bit selfish. I run without a shirt, rib cage armoring. I like my thin wrists, I like my body hair, all of it. I like the way my body changes throughout the day, swells and compresses, the way it becomes stronger, then weaker, how parts of it come and go, how each morning I think I look a little different for reasons lost to the night. Isn’t that fun, how we change? I maintain eye contact on the hottest days. Look at me sweat. Get in my way.

My stomach is full of honeysuckle and cold white wine, radishes, lemon juice, pink fish and white rice, plums, nectarines, accidental cherry pits, mint and dill, arugula, dark coffee, pb & j’s. I pluck silvergrass from the yard, cut my hair short, read before bed, dance with you, walk my fingers up from your hipbone to your cheek, make new shapes, slip in and out of them.

Like Persephone ascends, I come to in the warmth. Unlike her, though, I rule nothing. If heat lacks boundaries in its reign, then so do I in the image I hold of myself. Apparently, she also takes her job as Queen of the Underworld quite seriously, doesn’t just sit bored on her throne. This is where we differ. I am a time-waster, don’t love anything that much. Maybe I feel hot when I feel there is nothing between me and the air, or the feeling of it. When in books like Deliverance or Annihilation, our heroes adapt to their environment, become a part of the system in order to survive, I perform a similar transformation. I’d rather melt into the mainframe of the season. Maybe I forget I’m a body or maybe I remember that that’s all I am. Like sex, sometimes, it’s easy to forget you’re a body, a thing actually at all, and this thing that is heat gives me that same release. Maybe I feel whole because I feel fluid and easy and my body falls into a low, quiet frequency, humming and is a touch illuminated, like a glow. I feel hot when I fall into a place between feeling and unfeeling.

Some days I wake up in a swamp, the sheets have been sweat through and my face is slick. It’s 7 in the morning and I rise as the queen of the bog, I imagine, moss wraps around me as I kneel and reach my vined arms up and over left and right. I’ve become the invisible thing, the heat making its way into my DNA, it’s replaced my temperature and gone through into my skin, making a home there. My body is where we both live now. Its twilit, the air seethes and there are flowers that bloom like jellyfish gleam in blues and pinks beneath the water. My way is shown by firefly light and I hear a buzzing, it becomes my silence, sweat bees swarm. Some days I look over and you’re there, rolling over and over, rosy and pulling me closer as if trying to make your way through, making sounds, coming together then separating, sickly sweet. I find your heartbeat, sink deeper. I’m shining like the inside of a half-eaten cherry, like juice on your lips.

In my dreams, I lay with others with faces full of acne and beady eyes, fold myself in unnatural ways to catch the sun in barren pockets of my body, look up directly into it. I want a bad night’s sleep with a lover, I want to feel faint and I want stinging eyes, I want to smell and I want to be near-naked in the kitchen filling up the ice tray with tap water, I want you to hold the freezer door open for me, I want a sticky chin and hands, I wanna be in a bad mood, I’m gonna be hot and sneezing from the pollen floating in through the open windows. Every time you kiss a different part of my body you’ll taste something new.

Eventually, it draws blood. I’m pricked by browning grass-likes like planted needles, turned red and tender beneath the sun, watch my skin molt, fall hard against sand, pinned by the sea and crying salt tears, laughing with chipped teeth. Still, I hold on to this. You’ll have to pry it from my cold hands. I’m hot at the extent of the Earth, a pallbearer to my risen body at the end of it all. I’m my own preacher now, screaming before stained glass over a choir of wet mouths and tinny bugs, do you feel it yet? It’s a little harmony of devotion, carried by paper fans and the grace of cool air or maybe the beginning of a storm. I’m this way for now, heatful and changing, letting myself alter. I’m hot because I feel hot, in all it radiates, in all it takes and when the winter comes, maybe I’ll see you in hell.

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